9/11: Saudi Arabia feeling the heat 0

Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies in the Persian Gulf region have expressed dissatisfaction about recent legislation in the US that would enable the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks to lodge complaints against Riyadh and demand reparations over the kingdom’s alleged role. The group of the six Arab nations, known as the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC), issued a statement on Monday, claiming that the legislation was against international law and posed risks to relations between countries.

The head of the six-nation group said the law was “contrary to the foundations and principles of relations between states and the principle of sovereign immunity enjoyed by states.” “Such laws will negatively affect the international efforts and international cooperation to combat terrorism,” Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani added and hoped that the US would cast aside the bill.

In separate statements, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, both members of the group, expressed concerns about the consequences of the congressional move on relations between the United State and other countries. The September 11 legislation was approved Friday in the US House of Representatives. It had initially gained the endorsement of the Senate. However, the White House has hinted that President Barack Obama may veto the move over concerns that it could prompt other countries to pursue similar lawsuits against the US.

Observers say, however, that Obama is more concerned about the economic impacts of the legislation as officials in oil-rich Saudi Arabia have previously threatened that any legal action against Riyadh over the 9/11 attacks would prompt them to rethink their future investment plans in the US. Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001 which saw nearly 3,000 killed in hijacked plane attacks in New York, the Washington, D.C. area and Pennsylvania.

Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi nationals. In July, excerpts of a congressional report on 9/11 were released which found that some of the hijackers had ties to Saudi government officials. However, the allegations have never been substantiated by an official body in the US. The government in Riyadh has strongly denied any role in the incidents and has lobbied against the bill. The [P]GCC, a body which also includes Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, is strongly influenced by Saudi Arabia and has a record of obeying the official policy of Riyadh in dealing with regional and international developments.